ticketing bicyclists

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Anonymous's picture

Just got a ticket on Broadway at 97th for running a red light. Have heard from others that in the past two months, there has been a big crackdown on bikes around this area. Does anyone have any advice as to whether it is worth fighting this ticket? Its $150 for a first offense, exactly the same as a car running a red light. That is insanity. Would greatly appreciate any advice if anyone has plead not guilty.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
See earlier thread


Report it to TA, which is collecting statistics in order hold city accountable.

Also, TA's Web site has info on fighting tickets."

Anonymous's picture
Steve (not verified)
Red Light

True - there is no escaping it is a crimial offense, I too was ticketed for this.

I was advised not to pay and to go to the court hearing as 50% of the time the officer doesn't show and the fine is dropped or the judge often lessens the fine. This is not gospel and ofcourse you need to be able to take a morning or afternoon off work etc. Atleast it will give you a few months to save up.

Anonymous's picture
af (not verified)
"Running a red light is a 'violation', not ""criminal."""

Please don't make it out to be more than it is.

That said, however, 'perjury' is a 'crime', so don't go to the hearing and lie about the incident.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Guilty without testimony? Really?

"Steve wrote, ""50% of the time the officer doesn't show and...the judge often lessens the fine.""

Uh, lemme get this right: The complainant doesn't show, gives no testimony, and yet the judge/hearing officer arrogates unto himself the right to adjudicate the matter in favor of the city absent that? I don't think so. But what do I know? As I keep reminding the message board, I dropped out of law school--not once, but twice.

Well, here's something I'd advise without benefit of a law degree. If the officer doesn't show and you do, you'd be very stupid to testify at all; and, no, you're not obliged to and the court is not permitted to draw any inference from your declining to testify.

If the officer does show, question the officer: where was he positioned when he saw the light turn red, where was he was relative to you and the light, how long passed from the turning of the yellow to the red, what other vehicles were there or what was the weather condition that his vision might have been obstructed, is it not possible you entered the intersection on a yellow, was there possibly a vehicle close behind you that would have made your stopping dangerous or that would have given you reasonable reason to think it would not be safe to stop in front of him lest he hit you, etc.

At the very worst, you'll be no worse off except for lost time, if you do cross examine him. And, again, if you have the opportunity to cross examine him, you do not have to testify yourself and should not.

Note to detractors: yes, I acknowledge, by her admission here, Lenna did go through a red light, it is unlawful to go through a red light, she broke the law, and there is a punishment (fine) for breaking the law. You needn't lecture me on that.

And I know at least one of you who regularly rakes me when I express my opinion on matters of law will do so here. Save it, Geo."

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Additional, if, in 1 ior 2 instances, provocative X-questions

Geo, who DID graduate (Columbia) Law School, adds this:

Suggest that she also question the officer as to the color of the bike, and what she was wearing at the time. In addition she can ask when the officer last had his vision checked. If the incident occured at night ask about the officer's night vision.

(My emendation to his counsel: Wait, maybe the officer wrote down the color of the bike on the ticket. If so, scratch that question.)

Anonymous's picture
af (not verified)
"You should keep in mind the ""fool for a client"" rule,"

"or, more importantly, ""fool for a lawyer"", which comes from acting as your own attorney (or taking advice from an admitted non lawyer, who doesn't seem to have ever been to the TVB -- which is not a ""real court"" anyway, meaning, among other things, that it's not a ""real"" judge and there is no discovery and no appeal).

Please note the following info about the TVB:

1) No plea bargaining is allowed - this means that most of the time, you will incur the full penalty or nothing.

2) Conviction rates are high - reportedly the TVB is required to maintain 65% conviction rate and most defendants representing themselves are convicted.

3) The ticketing officer can fail to appear up to three times before the charges are dismissed. You fail to show up once and you will lose.

4) The TVB has been known to reschedule the trial with no notice to the accused. Meaning, you can take a day off work, rush to court and wait around only to find out that the date has been changed.

+ if the not guilty plea wasn't mailed in timely in the first place, it's all for nothing anyway."

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Once again, begs to be read with care by careless reader.

"I defer to someone who has evidently had experience with this bureau. I don't defer to someone who comments on a post without reading it with care: specifically, when you admonish me saying the court does not have a ""real"" judge, I point to my having called him a ""judge/hearing officer."" That tells me you don't read carefully.

P.S.: Nothing you wrote negates what I wrote, your disparagement aside."

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Once again, writer begs to be read with care by careless reader.

"Dear Anonymous Poster:

I defer to someone who has evidently had experience with this bureau. I don't defer to someone who comments on a post without reading it with care: specifically, when you admonish me saying the court does not have a ""real"" judge, I point to my having called him a ""judge/hearing officer."" That tells me you don't read carefully.

P.S.: As you know, your disparagement aside, nothing you wrote negates what I wrote,"

Anonymous's picture
af (not verified)
"""nothing ... negates""?"

"Let's get this straight:

you, a non lawyer, who has no knowledge of the TVB, advise someone who admits the offense, but whose complaint is that the fine is too high, to spend dozens of hours to pursue a defense that is to be put in entirely by cross-examining a cop, whose testimony will not be known in advance, questioned by someone who doesn't even know the required elements of the offense, who has never done cross-examination, before a hearing officer who probably doesn't know the rules of evidence, and doesn't apply most anyway (i.e., not a ""real"" judge), with the expected result to either get off or to have the fine reduced without personally testifying, etc., etc., and still contend that you are giving good advice, which I supposedly ""know.""

Yep, certainly sounds like a good way to save money to me ... (not).

Why not tell her to petition the legislature to lessen the fines for cyclists (of course taking note that with rights come responsibilities, so they might also change the right of cyclists to use the roads)?


Anonymous's picture
Roscoe Geo (not verified)
"nothing ""negates"""

"Let the ""amateur"" represent herself - bumbling and fumbling and perhaps establishinbg doubt as to whether or not the officer actually did see her cross on ""red.' The hearing officer may take kindly to her, and give her the benefit of the doubt. At worst she pays the $150 - no more - and perhaps less. Encourage her to defend herself - don't denigate her efforts to save. And she will have the satisfaction of having tried, and gotten a run for her money. Good Luck. . .and may the force be with you!"

Anonymous's picture
af (not verified)
Won't happen;

not without testifying.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Here we go again: yet another plea for you to read with care.

"Dear Anonymous Poster:

It's not for you or me to decide how someone else spends her time or money. Perhaps you're a person of some wealth and your every waking moment is spent at work or nurturing your family or doing charity work, or playing poker. Can you not imagine there is such a person for whom $150 is an appreciable amount of money? Can you not imagine a person less filled with time commitments than you or who puts value where you don't?

You falsely contended I ""advised"" her... No, actually, I did no such thing. At least as I re-read what I wrote, I'm unable to discern where I said: ""You should/you ought to/do, etc."" What I did is point out a possible scenario IF she were to make an appearance, suggest a line of argument IF she chose to get out of the ticket, suggest what she COULD do.

Best of luck on your further imputations to me.


Anonymous's picture
af (not verified)
"""read with care"""

"So, you never said any of this:

""here's something I'd advise"" (3rd par);

""you do not have to testify yourself and should not"" (5th par.)?

You're losing more credibility with each post."

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Class, let us never fail to cite outtakes in their context

"Dear Anonymous Poster:

I'll give you 33% on this last effort of yours--right on one of three implied assertions--but, when combined with your overall misstatements, your grade sinks probably sinks to c. 10%.

Permit me to lecture you on rhetoric: you never want to give your opponent an easy target lest your readers discover it thus making it too easy to thereby discredit and dismiss your presentation. When you quote someone out of context to create a false impression, you do that.

You see, dear A.P.--and I know you DO see; you just choose to disregard--what I wrote in its full context was: ""Well, here's something I'd advise without benefit of a law degree. If the officer doesn't show and you do, you'd be very stupid to testify at all; and, no, you're not obliged to and the court is not permitted to draw any inference from your declining to testify.""

In no way does that advise Lenna to go to trial. What it does do is inform her of my (solidly based) opinion...IF she goes to trial. Repeat after me: ...IF she goes to trial. Got it?

I hadn't thought it up to either you or me to tell her how she should use her money or time. It appears you do. OK, so you and I are different in that respect. You apparently advise her to not go to trial; I don't advise her one way or the other. My opinion is offered IN THE EVENT SHE GOES.

As you lecture me on credibility, permit me to suggest yours would be enhanced were you to crawl out behind your anonymity. I don't know why you chose to hide behind it: you're a fine writer; you write with great clarity--or is it the thinking you don't want associated with you?"

Anonymous's picture
af (not verified)
The actual failure to read with care is yours.

Read the full thread. I have not advised anyone to do anything; rather only to not do anything based upon what others have written, who can't demonstrate that they know what they're talking about (particularly a failed wannabe lawyer who doesn't even play one on TV, but harbors visions of masterful cross-examinations, and repeatedly posts this kind of misinformation; if you actually believe that people should ignore everything you write after your initial disclaimer, then why post it in the first place, and why protest if others call you on mistakes, even with all your qualifiers?). Unfortunately, what you actually demonstrate is disrespect for the law.

Some writing on this thread comes from those who know the law and/or have actually been to the TVB.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Is there no end to this p...ing contest?

Hmm, lemme see if I understand you, Anonymous Poster: only a doctor should speak about medicine; only a politician should speak about politics; only a minister should speak about theology; only a bus driver should speak about bus driving; only a criminal should speak about criminality, only a...well, you get the point. Maybe.

Oh, yeah, one other thing: in case you hadn't noticed, for all your personal vituperation, you've yet to find anything inappropriate or outside the rules of legal procedure in what I proposed Lenna bring forward in questioning the officer.

But as I said many messages ago, I acknowledge you've clearly had experience with the Traffic Violations Bureau. I haven't.

Anonymous's picture
af (not verified)
Read the entire thread.

Yes, anyone can contribute to how to do brain surgery, space shuttle design, survival in Antarctica, deep sea diving, whatever, even if they haven't done any of it.

On the other hand, many on this thread have already expressed their opinions on various aspects of this case (and there are many more possible topics of concern: cost/benefit to other cyclists? life in the city? bringing a child to the TVB? etc.).

Then again, one might be better off just reading Todd's post below -- from someone actually guilty of the offenses charged, who has been to the TVB several times, kept his mouth shut and got lucky.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
At the risk of beating a dead horse, this final word from me.


At the certain risk of beating a dead horse, as the saying goes...

Doubtlessly, were I a better man, I would let Anonymous Poster's above post serve as the final word in this back-and-forth, it being a fitting coda in referring to Todd's post, below. And I shall hereafter let him have the last word on this if he chooses. (I assume, based on the vehemence of his disparagement, Anonymous Poster is a he.)

Let me, in conclusion, state simply this by way of response to his preceding post: in challenging me for having the presumption to write what I have inasmuch as I'm not a lawyer, he would seem to compare thinking about asking questions of a police officer in traffic court to the learning that is required to do brain surgery or design a space shuttle. Don't be scared off by this. It doesn't. In fact, there are many times more lawyers than brain surgeons and space shuttle designers. Conclusion: being a lawyer doesn't require as rarified knowledge or experience as does being a brain surgeon or space shuttle designer. In fact, I will go way out on a limb here and state making an intelligent appearance in traffic court is more apprehendable than is doing brain surgery or designing a space shuttle. But, of course, that is just my opinion.

At the level of your case, you would be asking questions of the ticketing officer to seed an iota of doubt in her recitation. You surely don't have to be a trained lawyer to do this in traffic court. At the level of your case, it entails no more than being a good listener and a good conversationalist, and asking appropriate questions. A journalist, a public relations person, even a competent party hostess, and that lowest form of life, an ad writer, do this as a matter of course. You can, too.

That's not to say this will get you off. It is to say if you go to court and the officer shows up and testifies and you let her testimony go unquestioned, that is a guarantee of your being found guilty since, unless you are willing to lie--and I advise you not to (and, yes, A.P., in advising this, I am here dispensing legal advice without being a lawyer)--you should not testify. Defendants seed reasonable doubt in cases all the time without taking the stand.

And now, as I said, I am content to let Anonymous Poster have the last word. Disparage away, A.P. And after you do, for your reading (or viewing) pleasure, I commend to you such screenplays as ""Compulsion,"" ""To Kill a Mockingbird,"" ""Anatomy of a Murder,"" ""Inherit the Wind,"" et al. I know you'll marvel how the courtroom scenes could possibly have been written so convincingly and so compellingly by screenwriters who weren't lawyers."

Anonymous's picture
mike pidel (not verified)
anonymous annoying messages are now federal offence

"pres bush just signed a new law
It's illegal to annoy

A new federal law states that when you annoy someone on the Internet, you must disclose your identity. Here's the relevant language.

""Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.""

Anonymous's picture
2 cent lawyer (not verified)
Last word.

"There's a good reason why the practice of medicine, dentistry, engineering and, yes, even law requires a license, even though some think that elements of such practice are so easy and commonplace that anyone can do it. For those who choose to heed the (non) advice of someone dispensing it without a license (and based on what they learned from the movies), I guess that they deserve what they get.

Hint 1: Good cross-examination in a legal proceeding isn't anything like conversation, and is particularly difficult in defense of someone who did the thing charged.

Hint 2: The standard of proof in the TVB is not ""beyond a reasonable doubt.""

Hint 3: Follow Todd's example.

Hint 4: Most lawyers are in a court only once in their life--the day of their admission. Of those who go to court subsequently, most never actually try a case. Of those who try a case, many don't do any cross-examination. Of those who do cross-examination, most never become very good at it. What's left is a very small percentage of lawyers who could provide a good example to follow to learn how to cross-examine, certainly as few as good brain surgeons (and there are no general release movies that demonstrate how to do it either, no matter how good the drama).

However, it is noteworthy that of the motion pictures referenced as being convincing and compelling and supposedly good examples produced by non-lawyers, one story was written by a judge and two were based mostly on the transcripts of actual trials conducted by Clarence Darrow. In all four, the defendants testified, and in three, the defendants were convicted, including one who was actually innocent. However, two involved an insanity defense which proved to be successful to a degree; perhaps that might be useful in this case.

P.S. Whatever you do, don't tell the ALJ that you saw it in the movies or learned it from a MCP on a message board."

Anonymous's picture
Richard (not verified)
Pay the fine

you went through a red light and you were unlucky enough to get caught. It's as simple as that.

Anonymous's picture
Ed (not verified)

I suspect that the crackdown is precinct by precinct. Avoid that precinct.

Anonymous's picture
lenna (not verified)

"thanks for all the advice, everyone. the cop did write the color of my bike on the ticket and she wrote ""steady red light"". I am definitely going to fight it, but the thought of getting rescheduled three times is upsetting. Although paying the fine seems like the easiest thing to do, this whole thing makes me so angry, that I feel I have to fight. Maybe I can bring my cute kid with me and they will feel sorry for me."

Anonymous's picture
todd brilliant (not verified)
my 2 pennies

i agree with you about pleading not guilty and waiting for your court date. they say time is money, but if you don't mind missing a few hours of work, it's worth a shot.

maybe i'm just lucky, but the 3 times i went to court for 3 separate red light offenses, the judge (or whatever) dismissed the offenses every time. twice was due to the cops not showing up and the third time the cop must have forgot to say something during their testimony because the judge threw it out after he spoke. all 3 times i didn't have to say anything other than i was pleading not guilty. (they ask you that at the start).

if i was asked to defend myself, i wouldn't have anything to say because i really was guilty. i would have just taken the fine.

so, speaking from personal experience, go to court.


Anonymous's picture
LanceB (not verified)
New York State Bicycle and Pedestrian Laws


Does your club provide this essential information to club members when they join the club? I think it will be a good idea!!

Sharing the Road
New York State Bicycle and Pedestrian Laws

Anonymous's picture
Hector Roman (not verified)
Another thought on defense.

Besides cross-examing the officer, I would also suggest you look over your summons carefully for any technical mistakes the officer may have made. Is the location of where the alleged offense took place correct? Is the proper date on it? Is your name and address correct, is the officer's name and precinct listed, etc. Most times it is correct but if there are any errors, you can attempt to get the summons dismissed on a technicality. Worth a look. Good luck.

Anonymous's picture
David Oliner (not verified)
This is insanity

"This is how this thread started, and what its focus should be. I agree that there should be a crack down on careless cyclists, (delivery people especially) but ticketing a rider for ""safely"" going through a red light is just another ring of the the cash register for the city.

Go to that hearing, make the officer go, one, two or three times.

This progrom will only end when it is no longer cost effective for Mayor Mike.


Anonymous's picture
Colleen (not verified)
a very bad week for Lenna

I don't think she'd mind me posting that her bike was stolen at around 7:45 this morning. Practically right out from under her -- she actually saw the guy riding down the street on it. So, now she's dealing with cops in another way, for what it's worth.

Anonymous's picture
Christy Guzzetta (not verified)
So sorry

Hey Lenna,
I'm so sorry for you Lenna. What a bummer. I feel your pain. I have gotten tickets. I have had bikes stolen. It hurts so much. Though these are not the worse things in the world that can happen, the hurt is real, the hurt is big time. Get another bike quick. You know how much fun it is riding a new bike?! I don't mean a $bazillion carbon fiber racing machine to lock up on the street, but it's always so exciting to ride around on a new/different bike - an appropriate bike for the purpose. Get one quick. Feel the fun of commuting again. Oh, boy, on a different bike too! It'll be good medicine. Email me separately - I have learned a great way to secure your bike on the street. Is it infallible? No, nothing is infallible when the dirt bag thieves want our precious belongings. However, I've been locking my bike on the street 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for over 15 years without it getting stolen. I've posted this method before; don't want to bore everyone with it again.
Hey, Lenna, I'm sorry for the bike week you've had. Soon, Spring will be here. I promise!

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